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Peter O'Donnell is a freelance journalist who specializes in European health affairs and is based in Brussels, Belgium.
New rules in Denmark to eliminate potential conflict-of-interest issues follow the lead of the European Medicines Agency's repeated attempts to rebut allegations of pro-industry bias.
The growing determination of regulatory agencies in Europe to avoid accusations of conflict of interest - led by the European Medicines Agency's repeated attempts to rebut allegations of pro-industry bias - is resulting in more stringent measures being taken in many countries to fix clear lines between drug firms and the officials and experts involved in their supervision.
The latest example comes from Denmark, where, significantly, the medicines agency is headed by the man who also chairs the Heads of Medicines Agencies in Europe, Thomas Senderovitz. New rules came into force on Thursday to obviate potential conflict-of-interest issues among its employees.
Under the new rules, new employees must dispose of any such shares before they are hired. As from 4 July, the agency is prohibited from recruiting anyone who owns shares in pharmaceutical or medical companies.
Current employees are being given two years to dispose of any shares they may hold - or that they may inherit.
"The tightening is a clear signal to the outside world that the Danish Medicines Agency is independent of financial interests from pharmaceutical and medical companies," said Thomas Senderovitz.
"The people's trust in the authorities is crucial, and that is the consideration that has weighed most in our decision to change the rules, ” he added.
The move brings the agency into line with the European Medicines Agency's regulatory framework, “We have chosen to prioritize the area. A Danish Medicines Agency in the top class in Europe in 2019 must be open, transparent and clear in both announcements and signals, ” he said in a statement.